Halloween Tips to Avoid Meltdowns
By: Lori Lite
Halloween Tips to Avoid Meltdowns with Kids! Enjoy these TRICKS to make sure your child’s Halloween experience is a TREAT! You and your children will benefit from these tips and most of them can be applied to children with special needs. Children with Aspergers, Autism, SPD, and general anxiety orders can enjoy Halloween with a few adjustments.
- Be flexible! Do not make your definitions of a fun Halloween define your child’s expectation of fun. It is not necessary for children to have the full blown experience in order for them to have a good time. If you child wants to answer the door and hand out candy, then let them do that without guilt. If your child wants to sit on the porch and costume watch, then let them. If they just want to go to bed…… Trust me it will not matter when they go to college!
- Decide and let children know ahead of time how many pieces of candy they are allowed to eat while trick-or-treating and after. Let them keep the wrapper to keep count. When they ask for more…ask them to count how many wrappers they have and let them answer their own question.
- Head home before your child becomes tired! Do not wait for the meltdown. Think of similar experience and calculate how long you think your child will last. Let your child know ahead of time how long you are going out for. Bring a timer if your child responds well to timers. Take breaks and check in with how your child is doing/feeling.
- Consider your child’s needs. If they do not do well in a noisy group, schedule a friend to trick-or- treat with and stay away from the crowds. Avoid houses with screaming ghosts and flashing lights. You can even hand pick a few supportive neighbors ahead of time to visit.
- Costumes could be an entire essay. Most kids do not want to put a jacket over their costume. Direct your child to a weather appropriate costume and consider long johns under the costume. The younger the child the bigger the comfort issue. If your child has sensory issues make comfort of costume a priority. Try it on ahead of time for comfort and have moleskin cloth available. Bring comfortable shoes or sweater if your child refuses to leave the glass Cinderella slippers at home. Colored sweat pants and sweat shirt with hood make an easy costume. Bright yellow with a pair of sun glasses and you have a sun. Sew strips of fabric, yarn, or ears on a hood and you have a lion or a rainbow…Be creative!
- Eat a healthy dinner before leaving the house.
- Go early with young children…before it gets dark.
- If your child has dietary restrictions, no problem. Let them collect the candy and sell it to you afterwards. Items with peanuts get 5 cents each. A whole bar is 25 cents. Assign different values for different types. Kids love this exercise and will spend hours sorting the candy into their value group. Take your child to their favorite store and let them spend their candy money on a treat! You can also carry 2 bags. One for the candy that seems OK upon first inspection and one bag that parent carries for “no go” candy. This can eliminate meltdowns over candy later.
- All that candy! Too much candy for one family? No problem. Let your child select a handful and leave the rest at the foot of the bed for the Halloween Fairy! If the fairy likes the candy, she will take it and leave a surprise gift in its place.
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.